Friday, December 7, 2007

Unexpected inspiration

Though I'm suspended in a migraine haze today, I had a blast of much-needed inspiration, thanks to Mary's latest post at ( about the creative cooking abilities of a friend.

In honor of her fabulous story (check it out then come back here, I beg of you), I am hosting

The First Ever
Recess for Writers Contest!

Ironically, the contest has nothing to do with writing. But it definitely requires some serious innovation.

The rules are pretty darn simple.

Entrants have until Monday, December 10th at noon E.S.T. to send me their most imaginative (and edible) dishes using the following seven ingredients ONLY. Any cookware may be used (such as the type that is nonstick), but no other food products can be thrown into the mix.

The most original recipe will be highlighted in a special blog post here on Tuesday, December 11th.

I'll probably hand out some sort of prize, too, but I have no clue what it will be as of right now. So let's just call it "a surprise" and leave it at that! (I'm open to ideas. Perhaps a special little icon you can put at your website? The Recess for Writers... er... Cooks Award?)

In any case, here are your seven ingredients. As Tim Gunn coolly announces on Project Runway: "Make it work."

1. 2 cups of strawberries
2. 7 kosher dill pickles (you may use the pickle brine for extra points)
3. 4 cups of buttermilk
4. 3 radishes
5. 5 slices of wheat bread
6. 1 stick of butter
7. 2 eggs

Happy inventing!


Mary Witzl said...

All these ingredients in one dish? I hope so: my mind's already spinning away...

The Quoibler said...


In one meal would be acceptable. Often, a meal has a number of dishes. :)


Carolie said...

(Am assuming dill pickles are relatively small, and both radishes and bread slices are large!)

Southern Spring Brunch:

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Thinly slice strawberries, macerate in 2 cups buttermilk.

2. Thinly slice radishes and three of the dill pickles horizontally into coins, marinate in bowl with dill pickle brine to cover.

3. Arrange two clean tin (steel) cans with both tops and bottoms cut off onto a baking sheet. Use one tin can to cut two circles from each of three slices of whole wheat bread. Butter each circle of bread on both sides.

4. Place a single circle of bread in each tin can, spoon 1/3 strawberries with buttermilk onto bread. Add another circle of bread, then another third of strawberries. Add third circle, and all of remaining strawberry/buttermilk mixture. Cover entirely with a layer of bread scraps, leftover from cutting circles.

5. Place a circle of parchment paper, cut to fit, on top of bread scraps. Place a slightly smaller can (an UNOPENED can of sliced olives perhaps?) on top for pressure, add yet another can (Beans? Tomatoes? Soup? Or a clean brick!), and refrigerate.

6. Whirl one of remaining slices of bread in a processor to create fine crumbs.

7. Slice two of the remaining pickles lengthwise into four long planks each, and blot as dry as possible with paper towels.

8. Beat one egg and half a cup of buttermilk in a small bowl until foamy.

9. Dip pickle planks into beaten egg/buttermilk mixture, then into breadcrumbs, and set on a rack to dry for five minutes. Repeat egg and breadcrumb dip on each plank, and fry each in remaining butter (reserving two teaspoons of butter for later use) briefly until golden. Drain on a rack set over paper towels.

10. Soak final piece of bread in remaining buttermilk until extremely soft.

11. Whip bread/buttermilk mixture until smooth, add remaining egg and all of remaining egg/buttermilk dip mixture from pickle process, beat until frothy.

12. Coat two oven-safe ramekins with 2 teaspoons reserved butter. Divide bread/buttermilk/egg mixture between ramekins.

13. Bake in oven until slightly puffed and mostly set.

14. Turn strawberry bread puddings upside down onto pretty dessert plates (leaving behind pressed out buttermilk and strawberry juice), using can of sliced olives to hold down puddings as cans are removed.


* Radish & cucumber salad in dill and garlic dressing

* Crispy butter-fried dill pickle planks

* Buttermilk souffles

* Strawberry-buttermilk summer puddings


Carolie said...

Ack...forgot one part!

15. Cut final dill pickle in half. Slice thinly, but NOT all the way through each half. Fan slices out and tuck ends into base to create curled pickle fans. Use fans to garnish souffles.

* Radish & cucumber salad in dill and garlic dressing

* Crispy butter-fried dill pickle planks

* Buttermilk souffles *with dill pickle fans*

* Strawberry-buttermilk summer puddings

Ello said...

Iron Chef Challenge!!!!!!

(Ello goes running into the kitchen for a big yellow bell pepper to bite into. But there is no healthy food such as bell peppers in the Ello household and so madly grabs a bag of doritos for the required crunch sound.)

Allez Cuisine!!

Carolie said...

Ok, here's menu #2:

1. Place all ingredients except butter in food processor, whirl until completely liquid and smooth.

2. Butter a casserole dish, pour puree into dish.

3. Bake in bain marie until set.

4. Serve scoops of the grey, quivering matter on fine china, with remaining butter (melted) in a sterling silver pitcher on the side.

5. Offer finished masterpiece to audience of Food TV afficionados and Anthony Bourdain devotees, calling the dish something like "Heart of the Snow Tiger" (but in French, of course), intimating that:
a. the dish was created using only the obscure innards of tortured, endangered animals,
b. only true super-tasters will discern the hint of strawberry, and
c. only those with a rare and special palate can appreciate the dish in its entirety.

6. Charge $500 per plate.

6. Count your money, laugh, and order a pizza.

Mary Witzl said...

My God: I was going to try this and then I read Carolie's post!! Wow! No way am I going to win against that, but I'll give this a go anyway.


Slice the radishes thin (I'm assuming they're the little red ones and not the big Asian daikon, but it would work either way) and marinate them in the pickle juice for one hour until slightly wilted. Drain, arrange artfully on plate, garnish with pickles and olives. Use the remaining pickle brine on any weeds growing between paving slabs -- salt and vinegar kills them dead, and it's cheaper than 2,4-D!

Whisk buttermilk and eggs together; break wholemeal bread into pieces and soak in mixture until well incorporated. Fashion into small cutlets and fry in butter. Calorific, but tasty!

Take tops off all but three strawberries, slice vertically, place in dish. Use remaining strawberries as garnish.

For what it's worth, I'm slavering for Carolie's buttermilk souffles and would go out and make these myself if I could only make a souffle...

Carolie said...

Mary, personally, I like the sound of your relish plate, faux-French toast, and sliced strawberries! Simpler, and delicious!

The Quoibler said...

Mary & Carolie:

WOW! You two are awesomely creative chefs. :)


I adore "Iron Chef"! The host is a hoot, isn't he?

Carolie said...

Ok, here's #3:

1. Puree radishes and pickles with one cup of buttermilk until foamy, reserving one pickle for garnish. Fold in one egg white, beaten until stiff. Bake in bain marie in 350F oven in a small buttered loaf pan until set. Refrigerate until serving time.

2. Lightly butter one piece of bread, cut into thin "sticks" and toast in oven until very crispy. Set aside.

3. Slice strawberries, and cook slowly over medium-low heat with two tablespoons of butter, one beaten egg yolk and 1.5 cups of buttermilk until slightly thickened.

4. Beat last 1.5 cups of buttermilk with remaining whole egg. Soak remaining four slices of bread in buttermilk-egg mixture.

5. Place soaked bread slices in large frying pan with 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat, cook until golden brown on one side. Flip and cook second side until golden.

6. Place each bread slice on a small plate. Spoon strawberry mixture onto each cooked bread slice and carefully roll bread over filling.

7. Cut reserved pickle into fancy pickle fan to garnish pickle/radish mousse.

8. Serve strawberry rolls drizzled with remaining butter. Serve pickle/radish mousse with toasted bread sticks for dipping.

9. Stop Carolie before she can serve pickles, radishes and strawberries ever again!

The Quoibler said...


I'm just glad you're having fun with this! I keep thinking of all the different ways to serve these items... thus far, I've come up with several, though they aren't all edible. :)


Carolie said...

Oh yes, I'm having fun! It sort of astounds me that there are indeed several ways to prepare such a funny and limited list of ingredients. Thanks for coming up with such a great idea!

SzélsőFa said...

I'm simply watching the entries in awe.
I can not contribute, not really using and/or knowing some of the ingredients....

Saskia said...

2. 5 kosher dill pickles (you may use the pickle brine for extra points)
3. 4 cups of buttermilk
5. 5 slices of wheat bread
6. 1 stick of butter
7. 2 eggs


Finely dice one cup of strawberries, 3 radishes, and two kosher dill pickles. Mix these three together and let sit for at least half an hour before eating this sweet and sour salad.

Blend two cups of buttermilk with two eggs. Dip each slice of bread in buttermilk-egg mixture and fry in butter in a skillet (french toast). Liquefy one cup of strawberries and serve as a syrup. The other 5 kosher dills should be butterflied and served as a garnish.

Final two cups of buttermilk should be heated until foamy and served as the beverage. Buttermilk is actually very healthy - high in calcium :)

guten appetit

Carolie said...

Ooo, Saskia...that sweet and sour salad sounds good! Love the idea of the strawberries as syrup, too!

SzélsőFa said...

Saskia's version of salad makes me go uhm..., but why not?
a combination of sweet and sour may turn out extremely good!

the cake recipe also sounds just right.

Never Say Quit said...

I would have loved to have entered this contest, but can only do cheese on toast (Welsh Rarebit), plus I'm too late to enter anyway!
Best wishes
Harvey K

The Quoibler said...

Szelsofa and Harvey: Don't worry! There will be more chances to participate! I think I'll do this again with new ingredients sometime in January. :)

Mary, Carolie, and Saskia: The judges are deliberating as I type!

Shameless said...

Shame I'm hopeless in the kitch! :-)